Teachers & Staff

Michael Benson

Michael Benson is the Seventh/Eighth Grade Teacher at Wilkinson School where he has been for nearly a decade. From the very first year, he knew he was working at a very special school, a place where relationships and experience are at the heart of each day. He loves the relationships he is able to formulate with his students in a multi-age classroom and the freedom he’s allowed at the school to bring new ideas and infuse some excitement to the curriculum. Having the opportunity to teach nearly all subjects makes every day different, and he is thankful to be working with such a small, delightful group of students, acting as both a teacher and a mentor.

Michael moved to the Bay Area in 2005 from his home and lifetime residence in the rural town of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, where he experienced success in arts, academics, and athletics. After spending a few years at a small public university in Minnesota, he earned a teaching license for Communication Arts and Literature, grades 5-12. He was finally able to leave the state for an extended period of time, completing his student teaching experience at an English immersion school near Madrid, Spain.

He and his wife reside in Montara and love spending time outside, whether hiking in Montara, wandering in San Francisco, or playing disc golf. They also love traveling, anything from road trips around the country or international trips, including Peru, Spain, Borneo, Japan, and South Korea. This is part of what he loves about being involved with the Intensive Studies trips – he gets to share the joy of travel with his students. Along with the Intensive Studies trip, he enjoys the Big Basin hike and kayaking every year with his students. He’s looking forward to a long life on the Coastside and many more excellent years at Wilkinson School.

Julie Hockridge

Julie Hockridge is the 4th and 5th grade teacher and the Director of our Wilkinson School Music Program. Julie moved to the Bay Area in 2013 and began working at Wilkinson the same year. She has a real passion for teaching and education, and her classroom is always full of enthusiasm, motivation and high standards. She gained her Bachelors Degree (BMus, with Honors) at the University of Sheffield, England. She then went on to her Post Graduate studies at the Institute of Education, London, where she obtained her qualification in Music Education. She also successfully completed her first year of a second course, Masters in Educational Management, before moving to the USA.

Julie began her teaching career in England, where she was soon promoted to a Head of Department position overseeing the musical education of over 500 students from ages 11-18. During her teaching career in England she has also been entrusted with the responsibility of training new teachers, has directed orchestras, choirs and ensembles (including performing at the Royal Albert Hall), has been an examiner for the UK’s General Certificate of Secondary Education and also has experience in teaching the European Baccalaureate curriculum.

Julie grew up on the south coast of Wales, in the UK. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Ella, in 2003, Julie and her family moved to Wisconsin. While in the Midwest, she returned to education, teaching pre-K through 12th grade at Brookfield Academy and studying/training in the Suzuki Method of teaching violin.Outside of school, Julie loves spending time with her family and her two dogs. She is a self proclaimed ‘Foodie’ and loves to spend time cooking.

Jessica Giovannoni

Jessica Giovannoni is our Second Grade Teacher at Wilkinson School, and she has a creative style of teaching academics, helping students express themselves, build self-esteem, and develop a respect for themselves, others, and the environment. She has a genuine love of young children and knew from an early age that she would most likely become a teacher. She enjoys introducing students to plant and animal life through various activities and encourages children to lead a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.

Jessica was born in San Francisco and raised primarily in the nearby town of Pacifica, California.  She began her education at the age of three at the Children’s School in Park Pacifica. She later went back to volunteer at the school as a sixth grader and ultimately began her career there in early education at the age of 22. She graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco and later the University of San Francisco. Jessica taught young children in both Pacifica and Millbrae for nine years before becoming the kindergarten teacher at St. Cornelius School in Richmond, California. She left the St. Cornelius community after five years to have her baby girl and then joined the Wilkinson staff.

Jessica lives in Moss Beach with her 4-year-old daughter, Emma, whom she adores. You will often see Miss Jessica out and about taking Emma on bike or scooter rides down to the marine reserve nearby. In her free time, she loves visiting her extended family in Hawaii and enjoying outdoor activities, especially water skiing and snow skiing.

Katie Marquis

Katie Marquis grew up in Southern California near Venice beach, where she spent her time swimming and life guarding. She attended Humboldt State University where she fell in love with nature.  After college, she moved to Half Moon Bay and began working at Wilkinson School.  She began as an after school teacher and went on to become the kindergarten teacher. Katie has been on the Wilkinson staff for 11 years. While working at Wilkinson, Katie fell in love with roller skating and began playing competitive roller derby.  She took a teaching hiatus for a few years and played roller derby all over the world, everywhere from Paris to Montreal.  She loves to inspire children to find their passion just as she found hers.  When Katie is not teaching you can find her shopping at the farmers market or on her skates at the skatepark.  She also loves reading a good book and snuggling her cat.

Norma Acosta

Norma Acosta is the Director of Wilkinson School’s afterschool  program and the teaching assistant for the kindergarten program. She began working as our preschool teacher more than a decade ago in the Early Childhood Center. Later she became the teaching assistant in kindergarten, and the lead teacher for the junior kindergarten program. Norma has a deep affection for children, which shows in the relationships she has with her students.  She feels it is important to teach little ones basic life skills so they can thrive.

Originally from Alisco, Mexico, she then moved to Half Moon Bay, where she started an in-home daycare.  Norma is happily married and has two children, Angie and Diego. She refers to them as her sun and moon. Her favorite pastimes are listening to instrumental music and cooking with her kids.


Kristin Douty

Kristin Douty is the teaching assistant for the second grade class. She joined the Wilkinson School community in 2009 when her daughter became a student here, and she joined the staff the following year in 2010. She has a B.A. in Linguistics from Scripps College in Claremont, CA. Her career in education began with four years as a substitute teacher in Southern California where she gained experience with all grade levels, from kindergarten through high school. She discovered a particular joy in helping young students develop their love of learning while also rekindling a passion for children’s literature. On moving to the Bay Area, Kristin secured a position as an instructional assistant in special education at Woodside Elementary School.

Kristin grew up in Southern California, but found her true home here on the Coastside. When she’s not in the classroom, Kristin enjoys beachcombing, crafting, or baking with her daughter, photography, and reading. She says that Wilkinson is a perfect fit for her and for her daughter.

Andrea Caturegli

Andrea Caturegli studied fine arts at San Francisco Academy of Art and Cornish College of the Arts, where she developed her skills in painting, sculpture and print making. Andrea has been an art teacher at Fox Elementary in Belmont as well as the summer art director and teacher at Twin Pines Park, also in Belmont. Art has been a huge part of Andrea’s life, beginning around 3rd grade, and she values what art education brings to children as they develop into well rounded individuals. She is very excited to be working with our students and sharing her passion for art throughout the Wilkinson community.

Melinda MacNaughton

Melinda MacNaughton is the Wilkinson School Garden and Nutrition Specialist, and she finds it continuously rewarding to see the students excited to be in the garden experiencing science, farming, and nutrition through sight, touch, taste and sound.  Melinda feels it’s important for the students to understand the life cycle of the plants and bugs in the garden and how that relates to their place on the planet. Being a mother of two children has fueled her passion for the environment and sustainable food systems.  She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a MS in nutrition and has taught classes and provided nutrition consulting for medically prescribed diets.

In addition to coordinating the Wilkinson garden, she works for our local non-profit, The HEAL Project, teaching nutrition and providing fresh farmers market produce for school children to prepare and taste.  She also co-founded, organized events for, and provided content for GreenMoms.com.  Recently, she provided technical nutrition editing for the “The Growing Classroom” garden curriculum book for Life Lab.

Being Coastside residents for over a decade, Melinda and her family enjoy the beauty and wonder of our unique community.  She loves doing yoga, going hiking, and being in nature.

Susan Hylton

Susan was born and raised in Miramar, just one mile from Wilkinson School. Her dad is a flower grower in Miramar. It was there that she spend much of her time growing up: riding her horse and three wheeler and being a ranch girl. Susan graduated from Sonoma State University in 1996 with a bachelor’s in kinesiology (physical education). After graduating from college she returned to the coast and worked as a teacher’s aide in the 4/5 class at Kings Mountain School. This is when she realized she loved working with children. She subsequently became a substitute teacher and a private tutor.

Upon the birth of her first child in 2003, a lovely daughter, she happily decided to stay at home. She had her second child, another sweet girl, in 2006 and a wonderful little boy in 2011. They keep her life grounded, her soul soaring, and her heart happy.

Susan loves being with her family more than anything. For fun she can be found taking the family dogs, two labs, to the beach and on hikes, riding and caring for their family horse, tap dancing, gardening, and making her family laugh.

Susan is very excited to be working at Wilkinson, where she is combining her love for physical activity with teaching children. In addition, she feels so blessed to be part of the special school that is Wilkinson.

Kevin North

Kevin North has taught various classes at Wilkinson School including music, music in motion, collaborative song writing, performance and improvisation. Kevin is a musician, composer, comedian and performer from Vermont. Coming from a musical family, he began working as a professional musician when he was 16 years old. He has been giving private lessons in guitar, bass, drums and ukulele for more than 20 years, and his students range in age from five years old to over 60. For 11 years, he was the music director at Camp Daybreak, a summer camp in Vermont for special needs children. He also spent 10 years as a nursing home activity director, specializing in Alzheimer’s care. He then led a music program at Gates and Bridges, a preschool in San Francisco, for five years. He is currently the artistic director for Coastside Young Actors Workshop, where he has taught since 2009. He is also a member of Blue Blanket Improv, a non-profit Coastside comedy troupe that gives family-friendly performances to raise money for college scholarships for Coastside youth.

Kevin also writes and performs his own music under the stage name “Kevy Nova.”  He has also held an annual “Guitar-A-Thon” where he plays guitar for 24 hours to raise money for cancer research and has raised more than $33,000. He finds great joy in teaching kids to create their own stories, jokes and songs. He also loves his family and his dog, Little Girl.